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Coping with Bereavement
Bereavement affects people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel. You might feel a lot of emotions at once, or feel you’re having a good day, then you wake up and feel worse again.
Experts generally accept that there are four stages of bereavement:
You'll probably go through all these stages, but you won’t necessarily move smoothly from one to the next. Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense. Give yourself time, as they will pass. You might feel:
These feelings are all perfectly normal. The negative feelings don’t make you a bad person. Lots of people feel guilty about their anger, but it’s okay to be angry and to question why.
Some people become forgetful and less able to concentrate. You might lose things, such as your keys. This is because your mind is distracted by bereavement and grief. You're not losing your sanity.
Coping with grief:
A bereavement counsellor can give you time and space to talk about your feelings, including the person who has died, your relationship, family, work, fears and the future. You can have access to a bereavement counsellor at any time, even if the person you lost died a long time ago.
Don't be afraid to talk about the person who has died. People in your life might not mention their name because they don't want to upset you. But if you feel you can't talk to them, it can make you feel isolated.
Anniversaries and special occasions can be hard. Just do whatever you need to do to get through the day. This might be taking a day off work or doing something that reminds you of that person, such as taking a favourite walk.
If you need help to move on:
Your GP or a bereavement counsellor can help if you feel that you're not coping. Some people also get support from a religious minister. You might need help if:
These feelings are normal as long as they don’t last for a long time. The time to get help depends on the person. If these things last for a period that you feel is too long, or your family say they’re worried, that’s the time to seek help. Your GP can refer you, and they can monitor your general health.
Some people turn to alcohol or drugs during difficult times. Get help cutting down on alcohol, and information on drugs.
Bereavement counsellors also offer pre-bereavement care, helping patients and their family cope with their feelings. This can be especially important for children. Children’s stress levels are at their highest before their family member dies, so support during this time is important.
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